This anthology was published to raise money for the charity RAINN. The 99 cents price tag was to cover the cost of producing the book, with author royalties going to the charity.
I should have just written a check to the charity rather than buy/try to read this anthology.
I stopped maybe halfway through the third story because I was sick of seeing some of the plot/character storylines go into direct opposite of what the charity stands for. This is Exhibit A, B, all the way to Z why I don't like contemporary romance anymore.
Story #1: Redemption by Ruthie Knox
Two sad sacks MCs fuck a lot (seriously three of five chapters had pages long sex scenes - including the first scene of first chapter). In the author note prior to the start of the story, the author had to clarify that the first sex scene was consensual role play and not rape.News flash, dear authors - when you have to clarify something like that, maybe that should signal to you to rewrite the scene was it stands on its own re: consent.
No plot, no character development. Reeks of two desperate people who decide to stick together but they have no other/better choices and they are too lazy to make their lives better. This was the best of out the three stories.
Story #2: The Heart of It by Molly O'Keefe
Gabe is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who can't seem to have sex unless black out drunk. He wants to change this because it is keeping him from developing intimate relationships with women. So he hires a prostitute from a high-end call girl service to help him get over his fear of sexual intimacy while being sober. The story begins on the fourth date (one date a week); each of the prior dates ended with him stopping the sexy times during foreplay because he can't handle it. This fourth date finds Elena losing her patience (even though he pays her rate) and wanting to fuck this guy's brains out. So she pushes the boundaries (even when he says no), really hard, to "help him". They end up consummating the trade and he "feels better" - rather he and she feels deeper feelings for each other so they both back away. Elena has an angsty back story that is more than OTT. It made me roll my eyes rather than sympathize with her. A little angst goes a long way. They met again 18 months later and agree to meet later that day for a meal.
I felt so uncomfortable reading that sex scene due to Gabe's very visceral fear and self-loathing and Elena's pushing. The author tried to make this story all about the magic of the right pussy fixes everything, when I feel Gabe needs a lot more therapy of the clothing mandatory/sit on the couch and talk kind. Also the writing is full of crappy descriptions and has continuity errors.
Story #3: Sacrifice by Cecilia Tan
This is first person POV, alternating between the hero and the "heroine." I have heroine in quotation marks because Hero is a demigod and the heroine is the village's sacrifice to him in order to reverse the weather that is bringing about drought and famine. First the author has the sacrifice brought to the demigod naked and unconscious due to drugging. Next the demigod goes all gynecologist on his sacrifice by examining her maidenhead (while unconscious!!) and his thumb slips and he accidentally rubs her clit and makes her moan. A while later, after copious amounts of info-dumping about the stellar sexual prowess of the demigod, he remarks that his promise to protect the village's farming industry includes sex with sacrifice that is akin to a furrow to plough. There is also a lot of "othering" going on in this story, as the sacrifice is from a land/society/tribe far removed from the village under demigod's protection. And that is where I stop.
-1 zillion stars.